“Türkiye's win-win policy in Africa: A policy of mutual empowerment based on equality, transparency and sustainability”
Türkiye has long-standing historical and cultural relations with the African continent, dating back centuries. 1998 is a significant milestone for Türkiye-Africa relations. This year, Türkiye launched “Africa Opening Action Plan”. Throughout the last two decades, relations with Africa constitute one of the prime orientations of Turkish foreign policy.
Being at the crossroad of Europe, Asia and Africa, Türkiye’s policy of opening up to Africa is not just the reflection of a transient economic expectation. On the contrary, it is the product of a process with strong historical and cultural aspects. It is, foremost, the expression and natural result of the firm feelings of friendship and partnership between Turkish and African peoples.
Türkiye developed “Strategy for the Development of Commercial and Economic Relations with African Countries” in 2003. Main components of this strategy are promoting trade and direct investments, providing technical assistance, transfer of technology and sharing knowledge and experience.
The year of 2005 was declared as the “Year of Africa” in Türkiye.
Türkiye targeted to develop economic and commercial relations with Africa and this interest has also shared by the African countries. Türkiye-Africa relations have gained a substantial momentum since the declaration of Türkiye as a strategic partner of the Continent by the African Union at its 10th Summit in 2008. In the same year, first Türkiye-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in İstanbul. “The Istanbul Declaration on Türkiye-Africa Partnership: Cooperation and Solidarity for a Common Future” and “Cooperation Framework for Türkiye-Africa Partnership”, which was adopted during the First Türkiye-Africa Cooperation Summit of 2008 established a follow-up mechanism.
Second Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit was held under the theme of “A New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration” in 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In the same vein, Türkiye’s economic and commercial opening up plan to Africa evolved to a Partnership Strategy that would mainly aim the integration of Turkish and African markets and create a business environment conducive to human development.
Türkiye's 18-year Africa Initiative Policy has increased economic cooperation, while also bringing political relations to the next level. The experience of Turkish businesspeople has been transferred to the region and it has contributed to the development of African countries.
Türkiye has been forging with Africa countries. While Türkiye’s engagement with North Africa dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire, Türkiye has started to see more opportunities, particularly with trade and business, with countries south of the Sahara. The Turkish Government’s priority to engage with Africa has helped facilitate the growth of business and trade relations. Turkish SMEs have particularly started to invest as African markets have become more accessible.
The Turkish Government has also used development aid to help facilitate commercial interactions. And the Turkish image and presence has been enhanced by the engagement of private companies, NGOs, and Turkish schools.
Turkish companies are undertaking major infrastructure & superstructure (PPP & BOT) projects (roads, railways, airports, power plants, hotels, housing, conference centers etc.) and producing everything from cement, iron-steel, medicines and clothes to electronics and white goods in African countries.
In addition, Türkiye has helped to create a significant number of jobs in Africa, unlike some other partnering countries who bring their own workers to Africa. Human trafficking between Türkiye and Africa has also increased. The number of Africans from Africa to Türkiye has increased fourfold.
In order to build on existing relations, there is a need for more Turkish-African cooperation in the energy, digitalization, services, security and health sectors.
Although having historic ties dating back to centuries, the real development of multifaceted relations between Türkiye and Africa, and particularly the sub-Saharan region of the continent, is a relatively new phenomenon. The building of this strong partnership during especially the last two decades has been clearly visible by the rocket-rising trade figures, the wide numbers of joint projects comprising but not limited to the humanitarian field, reciprocal high-level visits and the fast proliferation of contacts between Turkish and African public and private sectors. Bilateral trade between Türkiye and the continent reached 40,7 billion USD in 2022 up from 5,4 billion USD in 2003, while the contract value of the construction projects undertaken by Turkish contractors across the continent rose to 85 billion USD. The market value of Turkish investments in Africa amounts nowadays to 6 billion USD and the flag-carrier Turkish Airlines serves actually no less than 62 destinations in Africa. These figures being impressive, there are still things to be done in order to bring the economic and commercial partnership between Türkiye-Africa further and thus closer to its immense potential level, in a way to touch and improve the lives of every single person of the peoples of the two Sides.
Since 2003, as Prime Minister and then President, Turkish President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has visited 27 African countries, more than any other non-African leader. These visits have driven both economic and political connections.